How Natural Church Development can help your church: The Church is More than Me!

Sometimes – perhaps often – the survey result is difficult to accept.

This is mainly because each person involved thinks they see the ‘world (substitute, ‘church’)’ as it is rather than seeing everything as they are. Unaware of the glasses he or she is wearing, with the subsequent distortion in his or her own perception and the attitude is: ‘If you disagree with me, in my eyes you (the collated survey result) are automatically wrong, simply because I am sure that I am right.’ (“Principle-Centered Leadership.” 109, Stephen Covey,)

Example: Jesus said something about the way we see things:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV)

Natural Church Development Principles in the Bible

A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe. (Proverbs 14:3)

Why such different outcomes over mere words? Words are much more than words. They are pronouncements that are supported by the nature of the person who utters them. They are extensions of his character. The words of the wise are spoken with integrity; that is, the words of the wise are aligned with their thoughts and emotions and their actions. They are holistic. The proud talk of fools has very little connection with reality. The fool’s pride prevents him from seeing life as it really is. Instead, he sees life as he is and, in his eyes, he is larger than life. Proud talk has very little to do with what the fool is able to achieve; he promises much but delivers less.

The tragedy of all this is the fool does not seem able to understand the Energy Transformation principle that is working against him here. He cannot for the life of him see how his ‘proud talk’ has morphed into a ‘rod that beats him.’

How Natural Church Development can help your church: Reality

  • The survey reveals, not reality as it is, but reality as the respondents see it.

These are some of the questions from the NCD survey questionnaire:

Q. There is a lot of joy and laughter in our church.

Q. The atmosphere of our church is strongly influenced by praise and compliments.

Q. Our leaders clearly believe that God wants our church to grow.

Q. I feel that the worship service has a positive influence on me.

Q. It is my impression that the organizational structure of our church hinders church life rather than promotes it.

Q. I always look forward to the worship service.

Q. I can easily explain why I come to the worship service.

Q. Many people are given the opportunity to actively participate in our worship services.

Q. The music in the worship service helps me worship God.

Q. There is a lot of creativity in the evangelistic activities of our church.

Covey says, ‘None of us sees the world as it is but as we are, as our frame of reference defines the territory. ‘ (page 109, Principle-Centered Leadership).

God knows this. That’s how He made us. That’s why David wrote: “To the faithful you how yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. (Psalm 18:25-27 NLT)

So the survey result is a revelation of the people who answer the questions and consequently, a revelation of their church.

The fact of the matter is, for us, our perception is the reality. That’s why we need thirty people (who meet certain criteria) to complete the survey. We want the combined perspective of a group rather than the ‘reality’ of just one person!

How NCD can help your church: Balance

Natural Church Development has the potential to help a church become more balanced in its ministry:

Is balance all that important? And if it is, why?

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This church appears to be very well balanced – only 16 (Min-Max difference) between the Minimum Factor (Holistic Small Groups: 46) and the strongest Quality Characteristic (Loving Relationships at 62). And it would be well balanced except that I have omitted the real Minimum Factor – Empowering Leadership at 22 (see below). This makes a Min-Max difference of 40 – not healthy at all.

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Even so, this Profile is good news. It tells us exactly where to concentrate in order to make this church’s health more balanced. This church is being held back quite dramatically by one Quality Characteristic. If they could just get improve ‘Empowerment,’ church health has the potential to go through the roof!

Whether considering humans or churches, an important requirement for health is balance. To be healthy one needs to be balanced. Living creatures find it difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce when health is out of balance.

Balance does not mean ‘rigid.’ Balance means being flexible enough to compensate for whatever is happening at the moment. A tightrope walker needs balance, but is constantly compensating for the wind, rope tension, and personal movement and so on.

When we do a survey the profile tells us where to adjust in order to achieve balance. The next survey informs us where we need to adjust now.

Not only does Natural Church Development help us become balanced, it also points out the need for flexibility. It reminds us that no two churches are the same, and that we are not the same church we were when we did our last survey. An absence of balance creates sick churches.

The gap between the Minimum Factor and the Maximum Factor (the Min-Max Difference) of the Quality Characteristics in any church is critical. A standard deviation of Natural Church Development = 15. Church health is more sustainable situation where that gap is small – 15 or less.

When the gap is large (e.g., a score of 30 is 2 standard deviations), and if that church does not give attention to it’s Minimum Factor and improve its health, then the Maximum Factor will be dragged down and the health of that corps will collapse. Perhaps this sheds light on why so many churches have seemed poised on a breakthrough, yet never quite make it to the next level.

Could it be that the Quality Characteristics of Natural Church Development actually define true revival?

Do revivals cease because they eventually become unbalanced and begin to emphasize aspects of church life but neglect other key components that would keep the movement balanced and healthy?